Date of Award

Spring 5-22-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

MAE - Master of Arts in Expressive Therapies


Expressive Therapies


Elizabeth Kellogg


In this capstone thesis, the author reviews current holistic research and methods around treating and understanding post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), using expressive arts therapy (ExAT) as a framework. The nature of a natural disaster is complex, in that it is both a process and an event. With ExAT’s emphasis on process, it is an appropriate approach to trauma as a result of natural disasters. The population focus is on earthquake survivors, specific to their early recovery, including traumatic stress and PTSD related to the event. I then apply research based on trauma and expressive arts therapy to this population, concluding with suggested interventions following the findings in the literature. This thesis also considers implications of racial trauma during and after the event, which came up as one of the highest risk factors of developing PTSD. Suggested application includes concentrated assistance for People of Color (POC), as well as incorporating self-expression and collaboration into therapeutic applications of art activities that can help in a practical way with natural disaster recovery. This thesis demonstrates that expressive arts therapy is a uniquely beneficial treatment approach for the complex and nuanced lived experience of trauma resulting from natural disaster.

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